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Quotes About Modern Christianity
These quotes are about the condition of modern Christianity. Since I personally believe that almost everything about modern Christianity is in need of reform and a return to "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3), the majority of these will be negative.
This does not mean that I am ignoring what is good in modern Christianity, nor that I am unaware of the many wonderful and godly disciples that exist even in anemic, corrupt western Christianity. Though they are many, such disciples are, unfortunately, a small minority of professing Christians, the rest being at best good people but nominal Christians and at worst self-righteous pretenders.
Western Christianity's unfortunate queasiness about facing that reality—or any reality—is the major reason why the problem is not being corrected.
A few, however, do notice and admit they notice, and they are quoted on this page.
This page somewhat overlaps with my page of quotes on Christianity throughout history, so you might want to visit that page as well.
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A.W. Tozer, d. 1963
Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender. (The Price of Neglect. In Hendrickson Bibles. 2012. The A.W. Tozer Bible: King James Version. Hendrickson Publishers. p. 93.)
T. Austin Sparks, d. 1971
It is possible to take parts of the New Testament, as to doctrines, practices, work, methods, and order, to piece them together, and to frame them into a system to be adopted and applied. This is the mechanical or 'ecclesiastical' method, and it is capable of an almost endless variety of presentations, resulting in a very large variety of organized bodies, every one of which claims the New Testament for its authority. This in turn issues in rivalries, competitiveness, controversy, and, eventually, in the presenting to the world of a Christianity divided into a vast number of independent and unrelated parts, far removed from 'all speaking the same thing'.
... the approach to which we have referred above is the cause of more limitation, stagnation, deadly legality, than can be measured. ("According to Christ")
Christianity has almost entirely come to be such a thing now, and it is practically impossible for the vast majority of Christians - their leaders especially - to understand or even believe that God can do His work without committees, boards, machinery, advertisement, organizations, appeals, reports, names, deputations, patronage, propaganda, publicity, the press, etc. ("According to Christ")
The thing that now goes by the name of 'Christianity' embraces between its two poles almost every conceivable complexion and inconsistency. At one pole it has the complexion of a liberalism which denies every fundamental truth - as to the person of Christ, the authority and trustworthiness of the Scriptures, the atoning work of the Cross, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and so on. But all this is included in the title 'Christianity'. At the other pole we have hard, cruel, bigoted legalism, which can resort to physical force and the use of lethal weapons for its defence or propagation. ("According to Christ")
Douglas A. Sweeney, 2005
Throughout most of Christian history, the gospel was spread more often than not by the territorial expansion of Christian nations—nations with legally “established” churches, the will to colonize foreign lands, and the audacity to Christianize their populations by force. (The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement [p. 61]. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.)
The term Christendom refers to the territory and the ideal of state-sponsored Christian nationalism, both of which date back to the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine (in AD 312), the establishment of Christianity by Emperor Theodosius I as the only legal religion of the ancient Roman Empire (in AD 380), and the geopolitical agenda of the Holy Roman Empire (which emerged in AD 800, lasted in one form or another through the period treated here [modern evangelical movement], and gave to Christendom its definitive, medieval shape). (The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement] [ch. 3, footnote 6]. italics and parentheses from original; brackets mine. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.)
Michael Spencer, 2009
Over the last century the church in America has suffered serious generational drift and decay. In every subsequent generation over the last century, the faith has become more fragmented, watered-down, superficial, and irrelevant. We have drifted from a vibrant faith rooted in the historic confessions, coherent theological convictions, and intelligent cultural engagement to a privatized faith that is indifferent to the past, theologically ignorant, and culturally irrelevant.
Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures. (Michael Spencer, "The Coming Evangelical Collapse" as quoted by S. Michael Craven, "Generational Drift and Decay" at christianpost.com, May 12, 2009. Accessed Sep. 17, 2011.)
Tim Kurtz, 2011
The majority of churches that exist today are organized spiritual business entities. They operate similarly to corporate America. There is a CEO, or Sr. Pastor. There is a Board of Directors, probably elders or deacons. There is a staff—either paid or volunteer. There are the customers—namely the lay people who come each week to financially underwrite the corporation/church. And finally, there is the product—their version of the gospel and its presentation. I personally shudder at using the term 'product' for the gospel, but in many churches that is what it has been reduced to. (No Longer Church as Usual, ch. 3)
The spirit driving most of these 'corporation/churches' is self preservation [sic]. They devise methods, practices and policies necessary to maintain their survival. (No Longer Church as Usual, ch. 3)
Paul Pavao, 2017
The US is a massive distraction to following God. The politics are horrifying, and the unbelief in spiritual things just grows. Selfish ambition and the collection of money is the order of the day. When I tell the youth stories of my time overseas and the experiences I've had with people from third-world cultures, the stories seem almost unbelievable, even to me as I tell them! They are not unbelievable. They are real. Demonic manifestations happen, and there is real power on both sides of the spiritual fence. Fortunately, our power is greater and always proves to be so. We don't see it much in polite society. Why would the devil want manifestations of demonic power in a culture bathed in spiritual unbelief? The devil hides in this culture. We need to make sure we're not hiding. Exhort one another every day, while it is called today, lest we go to sleep in the comfort of first-world living (Heb. 3:13 adjusted for our times). Be an alarm. Ring all the time with enough noise that no one who gets near you can sleep.
J. Lee Grady, 2018
I've come to learn that good friends are so much more valuable than money, fame or career success. Yet many Christians I know struggle in the area of relationships. Many people I've met—even pastors—admit they have no friends. And many churches are full of lonely people who are starving for friends but don't know how to make any.
The modern church doesn't always place a high value on relationships. While the New Testament commands us to "love one another deeply with a pure heart" (1 Pet. 1:22), we have developed a cold corporate culture that doesn't resemble the book of Acts. We are content to herd people into buildings for services and then herd them out.
Our main concern is that they simply occupied a seat and listened to a sermon. But did they connect with each other? Even in churches that try to nurture relationships, only a fraction of the people get involved in small groups. ("Do You Want Deeper Friendships? Adjust Your Attitude." Blog. Fire in My Bones. Charisma Media. 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2018 from https://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/37551-do-you-want-deeper-friendships-adjust-your-attitude)
The bizarre armor-bearer trend became popular in churches more than 20 years ago, but unfortunately, it's still practiced in some circles. It appeals to insecure leaders who need an entourage to make them feel important.
Some pastors have even assigned trainees to serve as bodyguards—complete with dark glasses and concealed weapons. They are instructed to keep people away from the pastor so he doesn't have to talk to anyone after a church service (because the poor preacher might be "drained of his anointing" if he fraternizes with common folks). ("The Most Ridiculous Charismatic Doctrine We Ever Created." Blog. Fire in My Bones. Charisma Media. 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2018 from https://www.charismamag.com/blogs/fire-in-my-bones/37969-the-most-ridiculous-charismatic-doctrine-we-ever-created, parentheses in original.)
My newest book, Rome's Audacious Claim, was released December 1!